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The Bears have made it official with a series of moves today to reach the 53-man roster limit before proceeding to the start of the 2009 season. The players will get back to work with practice Monday at Halas Hall. Here are the moves reported on the team's Web site:

CB Charles Tillman was promoted from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster

RB Kevin Jones was placed on inured reserve with a torn ligament in his left ankle

DE Henry Melton was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury

S Dahna Deleston was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury

Melton's ankle injury was not believed to be serious and it could be a way to stash the fourth-round pick from Texas on the squad for a year. The problem is he cannot practice while on IR so the only work he can do is in the classroom and weight room. This marks the third time in four years the Bears have placed at least one draft pick on IR prior to the opening of the season. It could be concerns about depth on the interior of the line cost him a spot as the Bears kept tackle Matt Toeaina, who right now figures to be third in the rotation at nose tackle.

Here are the official cuts:

QB Brett Basanez
FB Jason Davis
FB Will Ta'ufo,ou
WR Eric Peterman
WR Brandon Rideau
G Johan Asiata
OT Cody Balogh
G Dan Buenning
C Donovan Raiola
DE Ervin Baldwin
DE Joe Clermond
LB Marcus Freeman
LB Kevin Malast
LB Darrell McClover
LB Mike Rivera
CB Rudy Burgess
CB Rod Hood
CB Marcus Hamilton
CB Woodny Turenne

Either I missed the story online that is in Saturday's print edition, or somewhere it got lost in the shuffle on the World Wide Web. So here is the unedited version of the story that is or was to be printed in Saturday's paper:

The Bears are going to have to evaluate one of the first goals of their offseason after discovering Friday running back Kevin Jones will miss the season with a torn ligament in his left ankle.

Jones, who they were featuring Thursday against Cleveland at Soldier Field to get a little extra work in before the regular season begins, jumped into the air along the sideline and when he landed on his left foot it buckled. An MRI revealed the damage and he will undergo surgery next week. Rehabilitation is expected to take 10 months, but Jones proved he was a quick healer when he came back from a torn ACL in his right knee last summer.

While he was a luxury addition last year, Jones was headed for an expanded role as Matt Forte's primary backup when he returned with a $3.5 million, two-year contract. Adrian Peterson might have been on the bubble to make the club and now he's a lock for the 53-man roster when it's officially announced later today along with Garrett Wolfe. The Bears could seek a free agent but word around the league was they are content to roll with three backs for now.

``We were anxious to give him a lot of carries and see where he was,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. ``I feel bad for him. He's had a good training camp and I know he was looking forward to getting a chance to make some plays and was excited about playing. You hate to see it.''

The question is whether or not Forte will get off the field. He rarely did last season, participating in 84 percent of the club's offensive snaps, the highest figure for a back in the league. Forte was third in the NFL with 316 rushes, and when you add in 63 receptions, he had 379 touches, most for the Bears since Walter Payton had 434 in 1984. Turner talked on multiple occasions last season about working in others, and the danger now is it will be all talk again. Forte was dogged by a toe injury late last season and the workload wore on him a little bit on his way to setting a rookie franchise record with 1,238 yards.

``It's tough,'' Forte said. ``A.P. has been playing, this is his eighth year, he knows what he's doing too. We've got Garrett too. We don't have any issues with that. We're real confident with both of them getting in the game.''

The following players have been informed they will be released:

G Dan Buenning
C Donovan Raiola
FB Jason Davis
DE Joe Clermond
WR Eric Peterman
CB Rod Hood
WR Brandon Rideau
LB Kevin Malast
LB Darrell McClover
LB Mike Rivera
LB Marcus Freeman
G Johan Asiata
OT Cody Balogh
FB Will Ta'ufo'ou

Check back for updates. Names will be added to this list when they are confirmed.

The Bears have informed veteran offensive lineman Dan Buenning, who they traded for at this point last year, that he will be released.

This move likely increases the chance that seventh-round pick Lance Louis will make the team. Louis was used at left tackle during training camp and preseason but probably projects as a guard.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--The Bears made their second roster move of the day when they announced this morning that guard Dennis Conley has been released.


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Getting back to our position-by-position breakdowns as we move closer to the first practice of the summer at Olivet Nazarene University, we move to the offensive line.

Projected starters: LT Orlando Pace, 6-7, 325, 13th season, Ohio State; LG Frank Omiyale, 6-4, 315, 5th season, Tennessee Tech; C Olin Kreutz, 6-2, 292, 12th season, Washington; RG Roberto Garza, 6-2, 310, 9th season, Texas A&M-Kingsville; RT Chris Williams, 6-6, 315, 2nd season, Vanderbilt.

Others

Johan Asiata, 6-4, 300, Rookie, UNLV
Cody Balogh, 6-6, 303, 1st season, Montana
Josh Beekman, 6-2, 310, 3rd season, Boston College
Dan Buenning, 6-4, 300, 5th season, Wisconsin
Dennis Conley, 6-2, 300, Rookie, Hampton
Lance Louis, 6-3, 305, Rookie, San Diego State
Tyler Reed, 6-5, 305, 1st season, Penn State
Kevin Shaffer, 6-5, 318, 8th season, Tulsa

Projected depth chart

LT: Pace, Shaffer
LG: Omiyale, Beekman
C: Kreutz, Beekman or Buenning
RG: Garza, Beekman
RT: Williams, Shaffer

2009 salary cap numbers

Johan Asiata $311,666
Cody Balogh $315,200
Josh Beekman $563,325
Dan Buenning $905,200
Dennis Conley $311,000
Roberto Garza $1,565,000
Olin Kreutz $4,133,333
Lance Louis $320,495
Frank Omiyale $4,950,000
Orlando Pace $5,333,333
Tyler Reed $317,280
Kevin Shaffer $2,383,333
Chris Williams $2,149,700

Number of offensive linemen on the roster at the start of the 2008 season: 9

Projected number of offensive linemen on 2009 roster at start of the season: 8

The skinny: The Bears are reshaping their offensive line for the second consecutive year after using the same five (Tait-Brown-Kreutz-Garza-Miller) for the three previous seasons. They're set to open with their third left tackle, Pace, and third right tackle, Williams, in as many seasons. Nothing is official but Omiyale, the newcomer in free agency, is expected to supplant Beekman at left guard giving the front a new look at 60 percent of the positions. Line coach Harry Hiestand has done a credible job with what he's been given, which for most of his tenure has been a veteran group with a handful of castoffs from other cities. Hiestand didn't break stride last season when Williams was lost on the second day of training camp, forcing him to play John St. Clair at left tackle when the plan was for the veteran to be at left guard. Now, general manager Jerry Angelo is hopeful that his medical risk will pan out in a big way.

Ultimately, right tackle is not where the club projects Williams, the first-round draft pick from 2008, to be. But the hope is the team can squeeze a couple of Ruben Brown-type years out of Pace. He missed 25 games over the last three seasons in St. Louis, but Pace started 14 games last season. One NFC scout said he still looks solid as a pass blocker and the issue for the former No. 1 overall pick is run blocking. Pace was in good condition during the offseason program and it could be that a change of scenery and escaping a struggling franchise will reinvigorate him. The Bears have covered themselves in the event that injuries happen as they have Shaffer in a swing tackle role, not to mention Omiyale, who can play outside. That type of flexibility on the line will be an asset and there is little doubt right now the team will go with eight linemen to open the season. That was the plan last year until Williams had back surgery in August. In choosing to keep him on the 53-man roster, the Bears forced themselves to keep a ninth lineman. Omiyale should provide a little more bulk inside in replacing Beekman, and that was one of the stated goals early in the offseason. Kreutz remains the anchor of the group and with the Bears certain to face fewer eight-man fronts with Jay Cutler at quarterback, it will be interesting to see if the perception of him changes. Some have suggested the six-time Pro Bowl performer has been in decline but with Cutler and Matt Forte able to better keep opponents honest, the Bears' run blocking might look different.

garza610.jpg

We have received questions throughout the offseason about the status of right guard Roberto Garza. The latest comes from Alan T. in Chicago:

"If Josh Beekman and Frank Omiyale are in competition for the left guard job, what's going on at right guard? Is anyone pushing Roberto Garza for his job?''

Maybe we can shed some light on this issue. Besides Omiyale's brief appearance at right tackle in March when the coaching staff didn't have enough offensive linemen to run a full minicamp (talk about a scheduling snafu), he's been used strictly at left guard from everything we've seen.

Recently, Beekman and Omiyale have started splitting time at left guard although no decision is imminent on that position. Most expect Omiyale to win that spot, and his contract would certainly indicate the Bears believe he will be in the lineup. Omiyale is getting more than half of the $11.5 million base value in his four-year contract this season.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said in March that Dan Buenning, acquired via trade from Tampa Bay at the start of last season, could compete with Garza at right guard. We have not seen Buenning with the first team in drills to this point. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but we haven't seen it. Turner emphasized the coaching staff was happy with Garza's performance.

It's difficult to judge individual offensive line play with statistics, but here are some interesting numbers we've looked at courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau. They seem to support Garza.

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Emptying out the notebook for everything that is leftover from Wednesday's opening OTA:

*** If there was one undrafted college free agent that stood out now that the veterans are in the mix it was Louisville cornerback Woodny Turenne. By no stretch is it going to be easy for Turenne to make the final 53-man roster, and basing any odds after one OTA is impossible, but he made some plays. Turenne made a nice move to jump in front of a Caleb Hanie pass intended for Juaquin Iglesias and pick it off. He also had some plays on the ball.

With the long hair coming out of the back of his helmet, he looks like Al Harris running around out there. That can't be a bad thing. Turenne has good size at 6-1, 182 pounds, and he's shown decent speed and most importantly instincts. There are eight cornerbacks on the roster, although that number drops to seven with Corey Graham now at free safety. The Bears are going to kick the tires on veteran Rod Hood, who will be at practice today, a workout closed to media. Adding Hood makes sense because he be a third veteran corner.

Turenne was a junior college transfer and played well at times in school, suffering a broken clavicle at the end of last season. He was not invited to the combine and didn't have a particularly good pro day so that dropped him to the undrafted ranks where the Bears scooped him up as a free agent. The key for him moving forward will be to continue to show up every opportunity he gets. If he can prove to have some worth on special teams, even better.

*** If we didn't mention it Wednesday, looks like the Zack Bowman to safety movement has ended. He was back at left cornerback filling in for Charles Tillman (shoulder). With Graham going to safety it's fair to assume Bowman will remain at cornerback.

*** Here is how the second team offensive line stacked up--LT Cody Balogh, LG Frank Omiyale, C Tyler Reed, RG Dan Buenning, RT Kevin Shaffer. Buenning worked in practice as a backup center for most of the second half of last season. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has suggested he'll be in position to compete with Roberto Garza at right guard. The Bears have expressed their confidence in Garza however.

Need No. 3--Offensive tackle

Players on roster

LT Orlando Pace (signed through 2011)
RT Chris Williams (2012)
OT Kevin Shaffer (2011)
OT Cody Balogh (2010)

Need

The order we have been using for the Bears' needs comes from the file we produced for the Sporting News. That order was changed after the Jay Cutler trade and signing of Orlando Pace, and while we updated the list for the magazine, we were going off the old one. We wrote Wednesday that free safeties were next, and that's changed. So, you can easily determine that free safety and wide receiver are the two positions remaining. We apologizing for any confusion. On with the breakdown and explanation of need. General manager Jerry Angelo said on Tuesday that drafting a lineman, not just a tackle, would put the Bears in the unfamiliar position of having to carry nine linemen on the 53-man roster. The team already has eight veterans in place--Pace, Williams, Shaffer, Frank Omiyale, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza, Josh Beekman and Dan Buenning. A team can carry a ninth lineman but that spot would have to come from somewhere else--a third quarterback or a fifth running back (tailbacks and fullbacks combined) would have to be sacrificed, as an example.

Need No. 10--Guard

Players on roster

RG Roberto Garza (signed through 2011)
LG Frank Omiyale (2012)
G/C Josh Beekman (2010)
G Dan Buenning (2009)
G Tyler Reed (2010)

Need

One of the goals the Bears set out to fill this offseason was to add some more size to the interior of the line. That was accomplished by a series of moves, the first of which was signing Omiyale to a $11.5 million, four-year contract on the first day of free agency. Omiyale spent all of one day at guard in minicamp before being moved outside when the coaching staff appeared to be frustrated with the makeup of the roster. Maybe that's what happens from time to time when you run a minicamp in mid-March. At any rate, Omiyale can move back inside now that Orlando Pace has been signed to play left tackle and Kevin Shaffer has traded places with John St. Clair.

Need No. 12--Center

Players on roster

C Olin Kreutz (signed through 2010)
G/C Josh Beekman (2010)

Need

The 12-year veteran Kreutz has not been voted to the Pro Bowl since the 2006 season when he was named first team All-Pro. He will turn 32 in June and has a lot of mileage on him having started 102 consecutive games. He's missed just one game since 2001. Kreutz might not be a dominant player at the position any longer but it will be interesting to see how he looks this season with a new quarterback and new cast around him on the offensive line. There are expected to be three new starters. If Jay Cutler performs well and running back Matt Forte excels, well, reviews of Kreutz's play are obviously going to be favorable. That's how it goes a lot of times for interior linemen.

It's simple to predict what the Bears' depth chart at quarterback is going to look like.

1. Jay Cutler
2. Caleb Hanie
3. Brett Basanez

or

1. Jay Cutler
2. Brett Basanez
3. Caleb Hanie

Sorting through the offensive line after the addition of Orlando Pace, things are not as clearly defined. Let's give it a try though:

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Dan Buenning category.

Dahna Deleston is the previous category.

Danieal Maning is the next category.

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